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The genius of Johnny Haynes

If you’re a Fulham fan, you’ll never tire of reading about the Maestro. Dominic Bliss has penned some terrific reflections on Johnny Haynes over at The Inside Left, which features some lovely recollections from his good friend and team-mate Tosh Chamberlain as well as the thoughts of a man who had the difficult job of marking Haynes, Tommy Docherty. It’s well worth a look.

Remembering Johnny Haynes

Fulham’s finest ever player would have been 75 today.

Sadly, I’m too young to have even seen Johnny Hayes play. But I’m assured by those lucky enough to have watched him – and the footage bears it out – that Haynes was a truly special player. An England captain with a quite brilliant range of passing and blessed with remarkable vision, Haynes was also a one-club man throughout his career, which often meant he was playing a couple of levels below where he should have been. In many ways, he was the antitode to the modern footballer, who seems to swap clubs almost every year.

GBLB from TIFF found this video of Haynes the other day. Though it doesn’t catch the great man in his prime, the magic is still very much there:

Here’s Haynes at his best for his country as England thrash Scotland at Wembley in 1961.

If the footage has made you nostalgic, I’d recommend the brilliant book on the The Maestro produced by Ashwater Press.

Rest in peace, Johnny.

John and Boa Morte seal superb win over Liverpool

Collins John and Luis Boa Morte scored the goals as Fulham produced a fitting tribute to Johnny Haynes by beating Liverpool at Craven Cottage this afternoon.

The Fulham faithful played an emotional tribute to the club’s finest ever player with a moving silence before kick-off as Tosh Chamberlain played a wreath in the centre circle alongside one from the Fulham Supporters’ Trust. Chris Coleman’s side delivered a flawless display on the field worthy of ‘the Maestro’ sweeping aside a lacklustre Liverpool with teenage striker John putting them ahead just after the half hour and the lively Boa Morte wrapping up the win in the final minute.

Fulham, seeking a first win in six games, were fast out of the traps. Steed Malbranque did superbly on the flank and cut a lovely low cross back for Ahmad Elrich but the Australian winger, making his first league start for Fulham, somehow skied over the bar when it seemed easier to score. Fortunately, the home side were not left to rue that shocking miss.

Claus Jensen made the opener just after the half hour mark when his chipped pass ran kindly for John off Mohammed Sissoko and the Dutch striker finished with aplomb. Liverpool came into the contest more in the second half with Harry Kewell’s chip ending up on the roof of the net. Tony Warner, who replaced the injury Mark Crossley in the Fulham goalkeeper, denied his old side, clawing away a curler from Luis Garcia and blocking Sami Hyypia’s venomous volley.

Fulham’s narrow advantage ensure an anxious finale until Malbranque marauded through the Liverpool defence in the ninetieth minute, biding his time before feeding Boa Morte, who finished high into the net, as the visitors appealed in vain for offside. You’d like to think the Maestro would have enjoyed watching that.

FULHAM (4-3-3): Crossley (Warner 63); Volz, N. Jensen (Rosenior 69), Goma, Bocanegra; Diop, C. Jensen, Malbranque; Elrich (McBride 76), Boa Morte, John. Subs (not used): Rehman, Helguson.

GOALS: John (30), Boa Morte (90).

LIVERPOOL (4-4-2): Reina; Josemi, Carragher, Hyypia, Traore (Luis Garcia 59); Sissoko, Alonso, Riise, Kewell (Crouch 75); Cisse, Morientes. Subs (not used): Carson, Warnock, Hamann.

BOOKED: Josemi, Sissoko.

REFEREE: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire).

ATTENDANCE: 22,480

Haynes dies after car crash

Fulham legend Johnny Haynes has passed away after a car crash in Edinburgh, according to reports this evening.

The 71 year-old was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary but succumbed to his injuries. A spokesman for the hospital has said:

“I can confirm Johnny Haynes has passed away tonight. His wife remains in hospital in a stable condition.”

Haynes, universally known as the ‘Maestro’, was the first player to earn £100 a week after the abolition of the maximum wage in 1961. He turned down offers from elsewhere to spend his entire professional career with Fulham, whom he joined as a schoolboy in 1950 to team up with his great friend George Cohen. Widely regarded as one of the best passes of a football ever seen, Haynes made 594 appearances for Fulham, scoring 147 goals.

He took the club to two FA Cup semi-finals in 1958 and 1962. The classy midfielder won 56 England caps, scoring eighteen goals, and captained his country but missed out on selection for the 1966 World Cup after a car accident in Blackpool saw him break both of his legs. It was some achievement for Haynes to return to professional football and he stayed with Fulham even though they dropped out of the top flight, finishing his playing career in 1970 after a short stint as the club’s player-manager.

Our thoughts are with Johnny’s friends and family as well as all the Fulham fans who loved watching him play.